Catholic mothers in colorful dress attend the feast of Martyr Agnes Le Thi Thanh at Phu Cam Cathedral in Hue on July 11. (Photo: UCA News)
Thousands of Catholic mothers in central Vietnam have been urged to look after their families and educate their children in the faith following the example of their patroness who died for the faith.
Some 2,250 mothers in colorful ao dai or Vietnamese robes attended the feast of Martyr Agnes Le Thi Thanh, their patroness, at Phu Cam Cathedral on July 11. They are members of the Good Mothers Association based in Hue archdiocese.
Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh of Hue and many priests concelebrated the Mass, part of series of activities marking the 170th anniversary of the establishment of the archdiocese.
The prelate encouraged mothers to sacrifice themselves for their husbands and children, offer faith education to their children and do charity work for people in need.
“You should carry your own crosses and your families’ ones in your lives as good mothers,” he said.
The head of the Vietnamese bishops said on July 10 when he and other priests were on the way to Ngo Xa parish in the neighboring province of Quang Tri, they found a woman resting under a tree when day temperature of 44 degrees Celsius. She worked at a local construction site to support her four children.
“We stopped to talk with her and encourage her to work hard for her family because no one else loves them as much as her,” he said.
The prelate said many local women also endure challenges from their husbands who have drinking problems, are compulsive gamblers and fail to care for their wives and children.
Bishop Linh called on them to follow Martyr Thanh’s example of having taught her children the Vietnamese language, the catechism and faith practice. The martyr, who was born in 1781 in Thanh Hoa province, held foreign missionaries and local clergy in deep respect and hid them in her home during times of religious persecution. She was arrested, brutally tortured and died in prison on July 12, 1841.
She was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1988. Her feast is observed on July 12.
“I wish all of you will change your life to bring peace and faith to your families and parishes,” Archbishop Linh said.
Father Anthony Duong Quynh, vicar general, urged participants to spend much time looking after and giving faith education to their children since their children will mirror their mothers’ features and qualities in their lives.
Father Quynh asked them to treat their husbands and children humanely and kindly instead of harshly and badly.
He said many men are endlessly kind and sympathetic to their spouses.
The priest cited the example of a man who reminded his wife to put his medicine away before he left home for work. She forgot and their five-year-old son died after accidentally taking the medicine.
“While the wife repented her failure and felt frightened of her husband, her husband held her saying ‘I love you,’” he said.
Many mothers said they used to disrespect their husbands, tried to control them, became addicted to gambling and shopping, thought of committing adultery and disclosed their family secrets.
Participants stood up raising their hands and shouting “Be good mothers.”
Maria Vu Thi Loan from Phuoc Tuyen parish said in the past she disrespected her parents-in-law and shouted at her husband. “I have changed my life since I joined the Good Mothers Association in my parish two years ago,” Loan said.
“Now I have a happy family and we daily gather to recite the Divine Mercy at home every day,” she said.
Martha Vu Thi Dieu from Tay Loc parish said she was bitterly disappointed at her children who gambled and fought with others at school. She treated them rudely and neglected them as she was busy trading at a local market.
“Since I entered the association, I recite the Rosary daily, control my behavior, give loving care to my children and consequently they turned over a new leaf,” she said.
Father Paul Hoang Nhat, who is in charge of the Good Mothers Association, said the number of the lay association increased from 1,450 members last year to 2,250 among 60 parishes this year.
Father Nhat said members monthly meet, share God’s Word, discuss ways to educate their children, support one another and do charitable work.